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Over the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the question of ‘core’. Not the core values we often connect with companies, but more the core business. Because it feels that big businesses are diluting their core. Many are trying to be everything for everyone: not only for clients, but also for employees. And stakeholders. And business partners. And shareholders.

And that’s just not going to work. Businesses must always know what their core is: the essential part that makes them stand out from among the competition; the product or service that is their core offering they’ll always have available.

In the world of ballet, you can consider the core to be the barre: the dancer will always come back to it to practice to give enthralling performances. Overall in health and fitness, your core remains weak when you focus on crunches or squats only. But once you remember to train your core, you’re connecting to your centre, staying in balance and increasing reaction speed. Thereby (conveniently) becoming more self-assured, healthy and happy.

We need to take these learnings and apply them to our daily working lives as well. For companies, that means focusing on the core offering rather than hunting after every new hype. Yes, it might mean alienating some clients or prospects. But it also opens the door to so many others who believe in what the company does because the passion in the core offering shows. And it’s catching.

Looking at corporate travel, our core business is (enabling) trade. With that come secondary opportunities of sharing knowledge, innovation and business development. And to ensure companies do this most effectively, there’s a complex industry in place working hard in the background to make trade happen as efficiently as possible. In fact, it’s hidden so far in the background that it’s largely unknown to anyone not working directly in the field.

This situation has worked relatively well up until now, but we’ve reached a dead-end: businesses simply don’t recognise that corporate travel enables trade. Because we don’t promote the core. We get lost in the hypes and trends that simplify parts of travel, but too often disregard that our collective raison d’être is enabling trade. It’s because of this people working in corporate travel struggle to be confident in their work, create and implement innovative strategies, get funding to develop the discipline or find appropriate education.

The industry is being held back by its own inhibitions from bygone times: the exclusivity that many once associated with corporate travel now means the world at large doesn’t see its importance to trade, innovation, sharing knowledge and business development.

Corporate travel’s core is enabling trade. And the world needs to know. Because only if the world knows can we start to influence government policy, build smart cities, decrease carbon emissions and grow our businesses in partnership with one another.


We’re currently running a survey and while there’s still time to participate, initial responses are showing a paradoxical picture: 100% say corporate travel is an industry and not part of tourism; yet in a follow-up question, less than 10% say corporate travel is an industry – and 50% say corporate travel is just something one does.

Where’s the disconnect?

Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.

This definition is used by the UN World Tourism Organization and clearly indicates that both leisure AND corporate travel fall under the tourism umbrella. Yet, the word ‘tourism’ for the past few decades has moved ever further away from the business side and become almost synonymous with leisure travel. On the flipside, in corporate travel we often forget about the social and cultural aspects of tourism and focus solely on the economics.

And why does it matter whether corporate travel is linked to tourism or not?

It matters when we’re trying to push corporate travel education: should it be for tourism students? Yes, as it’s part of tourism. But wouldn’t other studies also benefit from at least a basic understanding of corporate travel? I’m thinking Human Resources, IT, Finances, Business Administration, Business Management – even Marketing might benefit to provide the social and cultural sensitive presentations for travellers (though that might be a bit farfetched). They all have significant touchpoints with corporate travel: travel managers and travellers. And at the moment they have no idea what they’re up against.

Remember: corporate travel isn’t only about the traveller (much as the industry is trying to argue the point). It’s also about the corporations.

At the end, corporate travel is the business version of tourism.

Together we can #TranformCorporateTravel.


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In the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at the benefits of a more visible corporate travel industry for travel managers and suppliers. But travellers will benefit, too, mostly from an understanding of what it is we actually do.

For example, many travellers think flight attendants main job is to pass out beverages and meals during a flight. Maybe some duty-free shopping. But the main job is actually looking after passengers’ safety while on board the aircraft. Yet, that isn’t very visible.

Similarly, in corporate travel, travellers think that agents ‘just’ book their arrangements. They don’t see the support network in place to provide duty-of-care and other (non-essential) care. Yet, once they make the connection their understanding brings great benefits:

  1. Compliance

The one most travel managers are after. And not very hard to achieve: communication is the secret. And the secret in the secret is explanations. Don’t just send email after email reminding employees of the travel policy; explain your (or your company’s) reasons why you have a policy in the first place and how it works favourably for your travellers.

  1. Trust

Knowing why there is a travel programme in place will help in fostering trust between travel managers and travellers. Remember, trust builds when someone knows someone else is looking after them and genuinely caring for their safety and well-being.

  1. Ownership & Feedback

Once you’ve built trust and increased compliance (as well as knowledge about the travel programme), travellers are going to share their thoughts and give feedback. Taking this seriously and acting upon it (where appropriate) develops a sense of ownership. And once employees feel they ‘own’ the travel programme, they won’t feel the need to book elsewhere. Rather, they’ll tell everyone else how important it is to stay in policy.

  1. Performance

Let’s be honest, the above benefits are major benefits for the travel manager, really. Yes, they also benefit the traveller because they feel understood and supported, but mainly it’s beneficial for a smoothly run programme. But there’s something that is a benefit for the traveller: performance. Trusting the travel program and booking inside policy means he can focus on the work, rather than trying to find a better deal and losing about 3 hours searching the web.


There are, of course, many other benefits employees have from traveling per se: improved (client) relationships, sharing knowledge and understanding of (cultural) differences, better trading success and finding new business opportunities. But these don’t help travellers see the corporate travel industry.

Together we can #TranformCorporateTravel.


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Last time I wrote about the benefits to travel managers once Corporate Travel is known as an industry in its own right. This week, let’s have a look at the benefits this would bring to suppliers.

  1. Talent pool access

Go to any industry event and you’ll hear people discussing the lack of talent. And the difficulties of onboarding people with experience in other industries: it seems corporate travel has its very own complexities that aren’t easily communicated and shared. Many people say it takes between 6-12 months to fully get to grips with the industry.

Yet, when corporate travel is known, students will be able to select this as a study programme. Universities will offer programs because they see a need for education: suppliers asking for talent, students asking how to break into the industry.


  1. Partnerships

Another benefit of transparency and knowledge is the way we will conduct business: rather than abusing lack of expertise, there’ll be more partnerships based on trust. Negotiations will be easier in a way that all parties involved are looking to help each other with their goals; thereby creating true win/win.


  1. Value -add

Today often buyers are wondering why products are ‘so expensive’ or what the actual value add is. And while corporate travel visibility can’t change the value suppliers bring, it can help buyers understand the value better. Because only once people are aware of what’s going on behind the scenes will they appreciate and recognize value-adds.


  1. Research, development and innovation

Just like travel managers, a lot of suppliers are ‘fire-fighting’: doing their utmost in the present moment to deal with situations – but not making time to put a strategy in place that could free them up from the day-to-day hassle.

Once corporate travel is known, suppliers (like travel managers) will be able to create strategies that not only serve their customers, but also prepare the industry for the future: by sponsoring research, developing next generation products and services and opening an industry for innovation.


  1. Wider impact

Finally, there’s a wider impact to consider – especially for travel suppliers. Many are already lobbying governments and policies to create better infrastructure and encourage business growth. But currently, they’re relying heavily on the tourism sector to drive their points – overlooking corporate travel’s significance to cities and business growth.


But in a knowing world, we can truly influence government policy, build smart cities, decrease carbon emissions and grow our businesses in partnership with one another.


Together we can #TranformCorporateTravel


By now you’re well aware that my passion is bringing corporate travel into the light. For corporate travel to be acknowledged as an industry. So today, let’s have a look at what a world would look like for travel managers if we were already there: at the table – partner of the big industries.

Inside their organizations

Within their own organizations, there are three main benefits to travel managers:

  1. Executive support

Travel managers will be ensured of executive support. Once businesses realize the potential of new opportunities, maintaining relations, developing and researching products, that are brought by corporate travel; executives will all want to be associated with the latest boost to the travel programme.

  1. Strategic planning

Currently, travel managers have a thousand tasks to perform – more if travel is not the only thing they’re looking after. In this environment, there’s no time for strategic planning or testing policy adjustments. But once corporate travel is recognized, there’ll be enough resources in place to deal with the day-to-day as well as with strategy. It’ll bring the fun back to the role.

  1. Rising compliance

Executive buy-in and strategic working – what more could one ask for? Traveller compliance, of course. With the world at large understanding the importance of corporate travel, compliance will rise: partly, because travellers know why it’s expected of them. Partly, and more importantly, because travellers trust the travel manager – and the programme.


Outside their organizations

  1. Inside story

Yes, even now travel managers have the inside story.  But it’s tainted by day-to-day affairs: the ongoing story of travellers trying / booking outside the programme.
Now imagine the days when all of the above is true: travel managers will have the true inside story: where is business going? What trends are companies interested in? How could that align with the travel programme? It’ll be value creation beyond recognition.

  1. Partnerships

The above goes hand in hand with new opportunities of partnerships – reaching further than the traditional supplier relations we’re currently used to. Partnerships form when there’s give and take on both sides. When partners come together to work, based on trust, friendship and passion.

  1. Super-connectors

And if that wasn’t good enough, travel managers will be the new super connectors: making introductions between partners that help businesses grow. This, in turn, will strengthen their own position inside the company as a truly valued and trusted partner.


I’m sure there are many more benefits travel managers will have, but these paint my very own vision of the future of corporate travel.

The question is: are you ready for change?




Last week I wrote about the invisibility of corporate travel. I really appreciated all your likes, shares, comments and messages. They’ve encouraged me to push on and turn the spotlight on this industry. Because we need to have understanding, funding, education and our rightful place in the business world.

But what does it actually mean if corporate travel is acknowledged as an industry? Let’s look at how perfect (or utopian) the world could be. Put on those rose-coloured glasses everyone!

Corporate travel is worth about 1/3 of overall tourism spend. That’s spend. It doesn’t include all the support functions and technologies we’re working with every day. What I’m trying to say is this: our industry is big. Big enough to earn a seat at the table: not as a service taken for granted, but as valued partner.

When that happens, we’ll all have smiles on our faces and work will seem like a pleasure cruise.

Well, maybe not quite that romantic, but it’s a fact that when there’s understanding it’s much easier to get engagement, sponsorship, support, resources and even funding. So let’s take a look at who needs to understand what to get us on that pleasure cruise:

Management needs to understand that travel is a growth enabler. All businesses need to maintain relationships, develop and sell their products and services, research and gain knowledge at conferences, meetings and events and educate their own staff. In the globalized working environment of today that means travel is a must. True, virtual options exist and are essential in the day-to-day work, but they can’t fully substitute for face-to-face (yet).

Travel managers need to appreciate their own value and the expertise they’re bringing to the role. They should try to step away from the day-to-day operations and embrace a strategic position: aligning the travel programme to company goals. Raising their hand at the board-meeting to point out synergies or new partnership opportunities will help others appreciate their value too.

Travellers need to understand why there needs to be a travel programme and policy. They need to take responsibility for their own safeguarding. Knowing about corporate travel as an industry will increase their confidence in sticking to the programme – and worrying about their actual day jobs rather than spending time to find travel cheaper elsewhere.

Finally, the world needs to understand that corporate travel is not just about booking a ticket and a hotel room. We’re here for the purpose of furthering businesses. We’re here to give people job opportunities, including a huge playing field for new innovation.

This is achievable. We can make this change happen – together. It’s time to take off our rose-coloured glasses and get to work!


Travel Managers: Working in the Light

By now you’re well aware that my passion is bringing corporate travel into the light. To be acknowledged as an industry. So today, let’s have a look at what a world would look like for travel managers if we were already there: at the table of the big industries.


Let’s look at mobile. Not the fact that we need to enable travellers to use mobiles and provide them with apps to do everything. No, let’s look at how mobile helps transform corporate travel to a growth enabler.

We need to think outside of tradition. But we can only do that once we’ve connected with our core. If we’re unsure of what we (or our businesses) are doing, we’ll just keep running after the newest and shiniest hypes, trends and buzz words.

So today I want to tell you about a new mobile app called Causr. This is taking corporate travel, or any travel in fact, in a whole new different direction: it allows subscribers to connect with one another based on location. Next time you’re waiting for your train at Paddington, why not check the app to see who is near you and have coffee? You can join groups that you’re interested in and that’ll enable you to message new contacts. The best part is: it’s powered through LinkedIn so you don’t need to fill out any details (again and again).

Let’s look at a practical example: you may be traveling to ACTE global conference in Amsterdam this week. You’ve decided to arrive a day early, but the weather is letting you down and you’ve decided to have dinner near the hotel. You dread going out for dinner alone. Now, if you have Causr on your phone, you can join the ACTE group and see if other attendees might be around already. Because of the ACTE group you can engage directly with members of the group and see if someone else would like to grab a bite to eat. Obviously, this is just one example. In actual fact, the opportunities and potential is endless!

But I’m not here to advertise a product. My goal is to transform corporate travel to its rightful place as business growth enabler. And I’m here to show you new ways of doing things, new ideas that are happening. In my opinion, Causr is a brilliant one. Within the first week of launching, two people met and conducted business worth £500k!

It’s not all about ‘making money’, however, and down time is important, so rest assured: you can set the app to ‘invisible’ if you don’t want anyone to know that you’re around. This might prove a vital sales point for companies anxious to make deals behind closed doors and without prying eyes.

So how does Causr help transform corporate travel? It’s simple, really: at the core travel connects people to trade. So does this app. It’s not a substitute for travel, it’s not another virtual meeting option. It’s valuing face-to-face interaction and facilitates this via real-time, location-based technology.

Their vision is “to create millions of meaningful connections for people nearby, all around the world, every day.”


I wonder, what is our vision for the Corporate Travel Industry?

Over the next few weeks I’ll write about how we can make corporate travel more visible and what benefits this will bring to travel managers, suppliers, travellers and businesses overall.

Here’s what’s already been published:



For those of us, working in the industry, corporate travel is what we live and breathe each and every day. It’s hard to imagine anyone with little understanding of business travel. But ask any friend or acquaintance and they immediately conjure up images of business (class) travel and luxury hotels, late drinks at the bar, a morning swim in the roof terrace pool and a conversation over coffee or lunch. They’ve clearly never done much business travel!

Those that have will see it differently: the headache of booking trips and searching for better options than the booking tool, long flights in crammed spaces, hurrying from airport to meetings, hoping for a bite to eat in between, sleeping in clean but frugal accommodation and getting back to the office to do expense reports.

And while both assumptions have some truth to them, there’s a lot more to corporate travel than meets the eye. Probably the easiest way to understand this is by looking at a travel manager’s job description. The scope is endless: As well as running the day-to-day operations, they’re expected to strategically align the travel programme to the company mission. And then they have to negotiate deals with suppliers across the globe, understand local differences and stay alert of new trends and how they might improve one’s programme.

Why is there such a disconnect? And why does it even matter?

The invisibility of corporate travel traces its roots to history: in the good old days when flying wasn’t something you did daily; when traveling for business was synonymous with importance and wealth. The service was different for business travellers and stewards would speak in hushed voices so as not to disturb anyone.

This carried on to the agents: being a corporate travel agent meant you’d progressed beyond the world of tourism. You were perceived as a tad better than the mere leisure travel agents. Suppliers, too, would give you more importance, believing you’d fill business class for them – which you did.

But times have changed: corporate travel is not exclusive anymore. It’s not only for the wealthy owners or CEO to travel; everyone is traveling for business: to secure deals, to maintain relationships, to progress development and to share knowledge. Business class is now often frequented by leisure travellers looking for more comfort; and economy class is often packed with business people.

Yet what we should have retained is not the exclusivity, the hushed voices and general invisibility and mystique about corporate travel, but the much more important reason for traveling: growing business.

It’s time for the world to realize there’s an industry here. An industry that contributes about 1/3 towards overall tourism spend. It’s time for us, within the industry, to shout about what we do and make people aware of all those supporting functions, technologies, travel programmes and policy.

Why? Because we don’t have the understanding, funding, education and our rightful place in the business world. And it’s time we changed that!


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